pros and cons of thrift shopping

The PROS and CONS of Thrift Shopping

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve sold all my stuff I’d have — well — 15 cents. During our two summers in Vancouver we either house sat or rented furnished condos/apartments. It cost us a little more to rent furnished, but you save on having to buy stuff — a lot of stuff! And it allows you to up and move without having to worry about what to keep and what to sell.

So when we left Vancouver all we had to sell was our bikes, which was pretty easy as Vancouver is an amazingly bike-able city. But with that bike-ability comes a lot of bike-a-thievery. In fact, one of our bikes was purchased by someone who had their bike stolen. As the saying goes, one person’s loss is another’s gain. Hopefully she has a little better luck this time.

Our life in Panama also required us to buy some stuff, and as much as we’d have loved to find it all thrift shopping, those stores aren’t that prevalent in Panama. Vancouver was slightly different in that we only needed to buy a potato masher and a coffee maker (I refused to use Keurigs or Nespresso’s our house sits provided). As mentioned, we rented furnished, or we were house sitting.

Now that we’re settling back east for the foreseeable future — sad as this is going to sound – we have to buy…stuff. Uggh, I feel gross just typing it! But this go around it’ll be very, very, very, very different. No more antique shops on weekends. No more retail “savings” with store credit cards. No folding pages of the IKEA catalog. This time we’re practicing what we preach; we’re hitting yard sales, thrift shops, and using these apps to find stuff we need.

And as we sit in our living room with our cardboard box side tables, we thought we’d offer up some PROS and CONS of thrift shopping to start furnishing your home.


It’s environmentally friendly. When you buy stuff used, you’re essentially saving stuff from going to a landfill site. We live in such a throw away society and it’s completely unnecessary with all the stuff that already exists!


It’s used. A lot of the time, stuff you find at thrift shops isn’t always in the best of shape. Especially underwear. Just kidding (I draw the line at 2nd hand drawers). But you do have to be picky if you’re looking for like-new or barely used stuff. Otherwise you have to take what you can get when thrift shopping. You may have to settle for mismatching dinnerware and cutlery. Then again, you can say you’re going with a bohemalist look. Yeah, I mashed bohemian and minimalist into one word. Patent pending.


You save money (usually). Clothing offers up the biggest savings. Levi jeans and other name brands can be found for a fraction of what they retail for. But you do have to know prices. For instance, if you’re looking at cutlery or dishes, do you know what retail is for a brand new set? Sometimes thrift shops have an item minimum. Meaning items don’t go lower than a dollar for example. So if you need 4 cups, plates, and bowls at a buck each, the thrift shop will set you back $12. Does a new set for $20 make more cents? See what I did there. I swapped out sense with cents. That’s called a play on words. Clever, right!


It takes longer to find things you actually need. If you need something TODAY, thrift shopping might work, but you can’t count on it. Retail stores carry a wide variety of every-day items, so if you need a bundt pan for your pineapple upside-down cake, try the local thrift shop first, then maybe your neighbour, then retail. All jokes aside we’ve needed a few things, like the aforementioned dishes and cutlery. Sadly, it made sense to buy retail for the cutlery, but we were able to thrift shop for the plates, bowls and glasses. Yep, we’re rocking the bohemalist look. Remember, you heard that term here first.


You’re helping charities. This one is a slippery slope sometimes. I’ve read that some of these thrift shops have CEO’s making millions of dollars. I can’t back that up with any stats, nor do I want to scour the internet for said stats. And hey, if the CEO is making millions for a non-profit, I’m sure he’d be making millions at a for-profit place too. Just sayin’. But the majority of thrift shops do get free inventory and often have volunteers “working” for them. That being said, my favourite — the Salvation Army — offers soup kitchens and other events catering to the less fortunate and is a pretty worthy cause, in my opinion.


No warranty. Caveat emptor my friends. That thrift shop stereo could last a lifetime, or it could last a day. When you buy retail you typically have a one year warranty, and sometimes you get a price-drop guarantee. In fact, we recently bought a bed retail and the price dropped not once, but twice. Our bed went from costing $499 to $399. I’ll take that hundy thanks!


You can find GREAT deals. True story; before we went to Mexico for our 40th birthdays we went to the thrift shop to scope out some bathing suits. Shelly found a brand new (with tags) O’Neill bikini. It was a little more compared to the other suits because it was new, but still, $20 compared to the $60 it would have cost retail…that’s poppin’ some serious tags! And that’s not the first time we’ve found such amazing deals thrift shopping.


No returns. Some thrift shops (like the Salvation Army) do allow returns in exchange for store credit. But otherwise, it’s not as easy as the return process at Home Depot, Walmart, IKEA, Sears, JC Penny, Lowe’s, Target, and any other corporate conglomerate where more often than not they (the corporate conglomerate) return it to the vendor or simply restock their shelves with returns. So you may be stuck with that second-hand thrift shop gitch…if you opted to go that far!

We do love thrift shopping and kick ourselves for not doing it sooner in life. But as you can see there are definitely some PROS and CONS of thrift shopping that can affect the purchase of urgent or specific stuff.

Now go sell all your stuff and discover the PROS and CONS of thrift shopping…and use the word bohemalist just for fun. 



2 thoughts on “The PROS and CONS of Thrift Shopping”

  1. I like that you pointed out how you could usually find great deals from thrift shops. My wife and I are going shopping this weekend and we are going to try to find some interesting or rare items. First off, we should definitely stop by a thrift shop.

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